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Paradise Lost and the Dream of Other Worlds

Hrileena Ghosh, Jadavpur University

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Abstract

The doctrine of plural worlds is an ancient concept which received a new lease on life as a result of developments in astronomy in the sixteenth century. In his epic Paradise Lost, John Milton repeatedly references this idea. Milton uses the concept of plural worlds in two distinct forms: at the literal level, he invokes the possibility of plural worlds within the created universe of the poem, and on a more metaphorical level, he invokes the possibility of the existence of several distinct but overlapping worlds. This paper seeks to consider how and why Milton uses this idea in the ways he does.

Balancing Tradition and Modernity: A reading of Tendulkar’s Ghasiram Kotwal

Shukla Chatterjee (Mandal), Dr. B. C. Roy College of Pharmacy and AHS, Durgapur, India

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Abstract

India, the country of cultural diversity, has a long tradition of dramatic performance with regional specificities. More commonly, it is known as folk tradition/folk theatre It is the folk theatre that gives the essence of the Indianness. During the 1970s, most of the prominent playwrights of India broke the barriers of regional language and produced many good plays at the national level. Most of their experimental works were centered on bringing the performance tradition or elements of folk theatre of India into the popular theatre. Thus we find Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana (1971) using theatrical devices of Yakshagna, a traditional form of theatre, widespread in Karnataka, Utpal Dutt using jatra in Surya Sikar (1972). Badal Sircar, experimented with folk elements of theatre and incorporated them into the proscenium theatre to evolve a new kind of theatre which he called the ‘third theatre’ or ‘street theatre’. Similarly Vijay Tendulkar, like his contemporaries, experimented with various forms of folk theatre in Ghasiram Kotwal (1972). But Ghasiram Kotwal is also a different and more important play in balancing tradition and modern in the history of Indian theatre. For an eminently successful and subtle realization of its importance in the long run, it is necessary to discuss the play critically. This paper is therefore an attempt to read how Tendulkar adopted the different folk forms of theatre and used it to represent on stage a power politics and the effects of oppression, a very contemporary and modern/postcolonial issue.

Ajitesh Bandopadhay: In the Neighbourhood of Liminality

Rajdeep Konar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

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Abstract

In my essay I would like to investigate the shift of paradigms in the relationship between theatre and politics that director, playwright and actor Ajitesh Bandopadhay (1933-83) was bringing into Bengali theatre. I would like to analyze how in the field of theater he was trying to form a threshold space: a threshold where politics and ethics, community and the individual, global and local can exist together as equals not imparting the hegemony of one on the other. How Ajitesh strove to conceive a theatre which puts forth itself as an analytical presence of life and society unmediated by an ideological or ethical regime. I would like to argue that it is in such a liminal presence in theatre, politics and the world; that the key to our future community of equality lie. This would also be an attempt at reclaiming the legacy of Ajitesh, whose influence on Bengali theatre has been hugely underplayed by the rather scanty posthumous attention being paid to his work.

“Acrobating between Tradition and Modern”: The Roots Movement and Theatre’s Negotiation with Modernity in India

Anuparna Mukherjee, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

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Abstract

When playwrights like Girish Karnad joined the stage after the nation’s independence in 1947, the Indian theatre was suffering from acute identity crises being torn between its ancient cultural past and its more recent colonial legacy, which gave birth to hybrid dramatic forms. Several theatre personalities at that time articulated the aspirations of a newly independent nation through their attempts to decolonize the aesthetics of modern Indian theatre by retracing its roots in the repository of India’s classical and folk traditions.  In the light of these developments my paper aims to look at some of the diverse indigenous forms that had been deployed with much success in plays like Karnad’s Hayavadana or Tanvir’s Charandas Chor, thereby significantly contributing to the larger project of decolonization after independence. At the same time the paper also wishes to interrogate whether this ambivalent process of Indianization, sometimes loosely brought under the umbrella of ‘Roots Movement’, is quintessentially ‘anti-modern’, or whether it is actually an attempt to evolve a discourse of an ‘alternate modernity’ by subverting some of the paradigms of its European counterpart which are actually a by-product of both capitalism and imperialism in the West.

People’s Art or Performance of the Elites?: Debating the History of IPTA in Bengal

Binayak Bhattacharya, EFL University, Hyderabad

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Abstract

This article attempts to re-read the cultural history of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) within the larger context of the progressive nationalist politics of Bengal. The purpose of this re-reading is to engage in a debate to locate the political status of the various non-urban, non-elite, non-middle class performative practices within the political strata of IPTA. The article reiterates that the Left politics of Bengal maintained an inseparable alliance with the Bhadralok class since its early days and by virtue of this alliance, the hegemony of the Bhdraloks remained secured. Consequently, within the practical domain of the Left politics vis-a-vis the IPTA, the middle class intelligentsia kept controlling the performative arena by restraining the movements of various non-Bhadralok forms. By citing references from the writings of Sudhi Pradhan and Hemango Biswas, this article contemplates to enter into a lesser-known chapter from the glorified history of IPTA.

“The Times They Are A-Changin’”: Bob Dylan and Urban Poetry

Sudev Pratim Basu, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan

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To begin with, it is really a daunting task for someone to attempt to map, categorise and pin down Dylan’s poems and songs to any one particular socio-cultural matrix. The problem intensifies when one tries to separate his poems from his songs, and vice versa. They are symbiotic and we cannot ‘read’ one without reference to the other. Which one is the ‘center’ and which is the ‘periphery’ is difficult to ascertain, especially with such a chameleon-esque poet-singer-song-writer like Dylan. Throughout his career as a cult-guru of marginalised voices who ‘abandoned’ the purist path for the lure of ‘electronica’ and the mainstream, Dylan has continuously re-defined himself and his cultural alignments almost as if to challenge the Dylan-baiters; and, in the process, has achieved a near immortal ‘parallel’ status which is almost exclusively his own.

Over the years Dylan has tacitly encouraged myths and anecdotes about his unconventional lyrical style – of writing and singing – and at the same time, despite the almost hysterical fan following, he has remained an intensely private and insulated individual. Guarding his privacy and poetical/musical copyrights like the proverbial dragon, Dylan did not hesitate to grant others his ‘words’ when he thought it fit, the best examples being his songs “Blowin’ In The Wind”, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and “All Along The Watchtower”, made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary (Peter, Paul & Mary), Eric Clapton (Clapton), and Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix) respectively. A shrewd businessman with an uncanny nose for the market and the marketable, Dylan has used this skill to promote the greatest eccentric poet-singer of our times – himself!

The Sitala Saga: a Case of Cultural Integration in the Folk Tradition of West Bengal

Proggya Ghatak, National Institute of Social Work and Social Science, Bhubaneswar

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Abstract

The paper discusses religious narratives about annual deity of Savara of South Bengal that can be conceptualized as myths, legends, and memories according to folklore of ‘Sitalamangal’. This goddess is primarily associated with smallpox, yet she is occasionally given other roles and powers, including those as the protector of children and the giver of good fortune. Her role also incorporated other elements of the period, viz. incorporation of deities from Brahmanical religion, incorporation of motifs and symbols from it, incorporating tribal, Tantric-goddess tradition to its fold as well as developed an elaborate ritual structure. The Sitala worship has attached the social fabric of Savara society and maintaining social solidarity.

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India

Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of exercise that has potential positive effects for physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. Dance therapy is based on the idea that body and mind are co-relational. The therapeutic approaches with various forms of Indian dances are a new entrant to dance literature. Ayurveda held dance as a power of healing (therapy) and inner awareness (psychology). Indian philosophy also supports the facts of Sangeet (song, dance and music) for benefit of human health physically as well as mentally. The powerful dance form of Bhangra (Punjab), Karagam (Tamilnadu), Chou, Rayabese, Dhali (West Bengal) gives good health and strength. The fast footwork of Kathak dance helps to release anger and tension. Manipuri dancers make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It gives them undulating and soft appearance, proper body control and peace of mind. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements. In India today the dance therapists are conscious about this matter and in therapeutic sessions they actually improvise different dance movements according to the need.

Challenging Enlightenment Paradigms: Responses of Benjamin and Tagore

Debmalya Das, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India

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European Enlightenment in the eighteenth century marked a paradigm shift in its perception of time and in the practice of historiography. The idea of linear/teleological classification of time and the notion of empirical documentation of history was combined with the notion of progress, which saw civilization as a development from the state of barbarity to that of refinement. The appropriation of this progressivist ideology by the powerful in society has served as a tool of domination. Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1940) and Rabindranath Tagore’s “Crisis in Civilization”(1941), written in the wake of World War II, provide us with two radical perspectives which challenge such progressivist assumptions. Expanding the critical span into their other writings, this paper seeks to historicize the two figures in their varied positions of marginality as two counter-Enlightenment ideologues, writing at a moment of human history when the idea of being civilized was continually threatened by manifestations of barbarity in the socio-political/cultural dynamics of the entire world.

Tagore’s Educational Experiments and Right to Education Bill: a Comparison

Falguni P. Desai, V. S. Patel College of Arts and Science, Gujarat, India

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Abstract

As one of the earliest educators to think in terms of the global village and free education for all, Rabindranath Tagore’s educational pattern Loka-siksha has a distinctive understanding and suitability for education within multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural situations, amidst conditions of acknowledged economic discrepancy and political imbalance of contemporary times where education and cost are twined. The paper proposes to focus on Tagore’s philosophy on education an idea of extending equal right of education for all.

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